I’m still surprised by the number of people who have never been to a stunning bakery/café in Lisbon called Padaria São Roque. Nestled between Príncipe Real and Bairro Alto, you may walk right past it without realizing. But like so many little restaurants or stores in Portugal, you’d be missing out if you didn’t stop in for a little bit. Here’s what makes this place such a hidden gem.
There’s nothing particularly attention-grabbing about the outside of the building. But once you go in for the first time, you can’t comprehend the contrast between the exterior and interior. Suddenly, you find yourself surrounded by enormous pink marble columns and counters, old mirrors, antique lighting fixtures, and, most striking, brightly-colored art nouveau tiles. I find the tiles particularly interesting as they have a recurring wheat motif – what could be more fitting for a bakery? It’s like stepping back in time 100 years! Although the ceilings are very high, the floor space is actually quite small, which makes it difficult to photograph, and I feel my photos don’t do this place justice.
Padaria São Roque is officially a bakery that is known for its bread. In fact, they have an azulejo tile sign inside that says “Catedral do Pão” (or Bread Cathedral), and word has it they live up to that reputation. But if you don’t go for the bread, don’t worry: Padaria São Roque also serves many of the usual coffees and pastries you would find in a typical Portuguese café. If you don’t already know how to order coffee in Portugal, I made a very helpful guide for you here. So my recommendation is: go in, have a quick bite (or buy some bread to take home), and relish in the beauty all around you. I’m sure the staff who work there are very used to people – like me – coming in and taking lots of pictures, so take as many as you want, so long as you order something.
Here’s a video of fellow Portuguese blogger Filipa, from Dissecting the Look, and me looking extremely excited by our surroundings. We sat by the window, and couldn’t help but chuckle when we caught people with their hands and faces pressed up against the windows from the outside to peek in… only realizing too late that we were sitting right there watching them! But how could we blame them for wanting to look? The inside was too beautiful to miss.
Padaria São Roque address: 57 Rua Dom Pedro V, Lisboa 1200